LivingTownBannerSaw now I’m back with actually getting building on this. If you missed what I’m working on, take a look at the previous post here.

Familiarized yourself with the idea? Okay, good, let’s get started.

The first thing I want to do is build a small scale prototype. I’m working with a TON of different features, so I’m going to need to start with something very basic, and then add on pieces bit by bit. My first goal is to make a small farm, with a single inhabitant, and have him go about a routine based on time of day.

LivingTownGS1Meet Arglebar. He is a farmer. His main routine is tending his field. He eats in the morning, has a light snack at midday, and eats again at the end of his day, then enjoys sitting in front of his fireplace and going to sleep.

The first part of my plan is a little looney, and actually breaks one of my cardinal rules of RPG Maker, I’m going to treat Events like NPCs. Now, I’m not going to try to have each of them handle their own stuff internally, that would get a bit crammed and that many processes running would probably lag something awful. Instead, I’m going to run his routine all using a common event. But, this one single event will be Arglebar in the world, and there is no other Arglebar event.

There are many advantages of this. Because he is a single event that is always moving from place to place, I don’t have to worry about duplicate events. It also lets me store information about the character in self switches (and self-variables as well, which I will eventually add with scripts).

I know what you are asking “but how is Arglebar going to go inside his house”. And that is a good question! The answer is in thinking outside the box. The entire playable area of the town will be one map, things will just be spaced so you can’t see more than one “map” at a time. I can use other maps for places that the villagers will never go, but this keeps things much simpler for me to run routines.

But I know what you are thinking: Wait, won’t that mess up because they use different tilesets!?

That is an odd little house.

That is an odd little house.

I’m glad you asked that! There are two ways I can fix this.

  1. Cut together the two tilesets using only what I’m using on interior and exteriors. This wouldn’t be too hard, only the TileA stuff would have to be copied, since both the exterior and interior tilesets have only 2 B-E sets, so I could fit both of those.
  2. Just have the game change tilesets when you go through the transfer event.

I’m going to just go with #2 for now, though I may switch to doing #1 later. There are several advantages for doing #1 (passabilities won’t change, which may matter for events acting in their homes, but more on that later), but for a quick throwtogether prototype, I’m going to go with the faster solution, which is #2. The event should look like this:


There is another great advantage of doing it all on one map. I can keep everyone’s routines constantly running, without worrying that it will mess up when the player is away. This is something you couldn’t do on a grand scale, but for a single village, I should be able to get it to work out.

For right now, I’m just using the Mountain Village House Exterior and Interior sample maps kludged together for my maps. Sample maps are GREAT for prototyping. They save a lot of time over making a custom map just to test something out.

With that out of the way. I’ll move over to some other planning steps. For this to work, I’m going to need some kind of timekeeping system. Its going to need to be extensible to further planning, as right now, I’m only working on something small, but I need to be able to add weeks/months/years etc.

After going through a lot of options, I finally settled on a script by Solistra called SES Dynamic Time. The reasons for this decision are pretty obvious when you read the description. It lets me create my own timeline, pace everything the way I want, and have many different combinations of time periods. Its also made by someone I know, and can therefore trust to not be an idiot who has slapped stuff together.

For moving around Arglebar, because this is a much simpler setup than my full implementation, I could probably just use normal move routes. But I know it won’t cut it once we get into more dynamic ideas. With that in mind, I’m going to go ahead and try to use a pathfinding script instead.

What is a pathfinding script? Basically, instead of telling the event every single move up, move left, move down, move right, you can tell it an end location, and it will find its way there on its own. This will be great for later on, when I’m having a person have a dynamic routine, where he could go to one location from many different locations. Implementing this script earlier will mean less fiddling with it on the grand scale.

The Pathfinding script I have chosen is one by Jet and edited by Venima. Once again chosen because I know the creator isn’t an idiot, and it does what I want.

Now to develop a routine. I’m going to use a time scale of about 60 to 1 for initial testing. This will mean that for each minute that passes in real time, one hour will pass in game time. 24 minutes will give us a full day.

Arglebar’s routine in the first prototype for each day will be this:

  • 6am: Wake up and fix and eat a breakfast
  • 7am: Go to the field and work
  • 12pm: Sit on his stool near his campfire and eat a light lunch
  • 12:30pm: Go to the field and work
  • 7pm: Come home, fix and eat a dinner
  • 8pm: Sit in front of fireplace and rest
  • 10pm: Go to bed

He will repeat this day infinitely. What a boring life! Fortunately, this is just the beginning, and he will have much more to look forward to in the future. Now that I have things planned out, next time, I’ll actually get into the guts of my prototyping. Any questions so far? Have any thoughts on how things are proceeding? Or want to tell me how I’m doing it all wrong? State your case in the comments section below, or you can also join in on the discussions on our forums here.

As for materials: I didn’t really add much this week, as I didn’t write down any notes that didn’t make it directly into the article, and I didn’t do enough work in the editor to really show anything. Not enough to upload. You can check out the scripts I’m using and try to familiarize yourself with them, though. Or maybe search and see what other options I had that I turned down.



This is the 3rd guardian I have done, which seems to be a little bit golem in nature, so when this guy came up as a winner I had a pretty good idea what I was going for from my description:

Dark Magic Guardian – This onyx beast is charged with guarding the most valuable tomes in the depths of Mount Zurat.  Its halberd crackles with black lightning and it hefts a magick nullification shield, this guardian stands ever vigilant against those who would steal the secrets of its masters.

So, golem, halberd with black lightning and greatshield, pretty simple!

I began as I usually do, I kind of just read and reread the description text until some sort of idea pops into my head.  Then I go into refining it and putting it together in different ways.  Finally I sit down with my moleskine sketchbook (the best sketchbooks ever) and rough out my ideas.

After a couple of roughs I found the pose I was looking for, then it was just a matter of putting it down on some bristol!


Golem-y face? check.  Magic devouring shield with runes? check.  Giant runic halberd? check.

Onto tones!


This is where I am just roughing out the lighting and some materials with a grayscale layer that I then color balance to warm or cool.  I have a scan of canvas painted over roughly with burnt umber oils that I use for this step.


Colors on this were a little tricky.  I ended up doing the fiery version first, because the warm and cools looked so good together, but that wasn’t what was in my description.  I needed “black lightning”, whatever the heck that looked like.  So I went about doing a slight recolor and shelved the fire version for a variation I could include.



And here are the finals!  A black lightning version, and a fiery version.

Download the assets here :

Check out the video time-lapse here:

Thanks again for reading!

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As I mentioned in an earlier article, I recently had gotten into playing Skyrim. So as I was playing, being that I was playing on PC, and after about 100 hours of play, I decided to start trying out some mods.

Unfortunately, I was not the High King of Skyrim

Unfortunately, I was not the High King of Skyrim

One of the mods I downloaded was titled “Interesting NPCs”. It added a ton of new characters into the world, all fully voiced, with tons of dialogue, new followers, and all that jazz. After a few hours of playing with the mod, I had to scrap it from my game.

And not because it was bad. It was actually very well done, especially for a ton of amateur work. But because it committed to me, what is one of the biggest sins in all gaming: It was inconsistent with the game around it. The voice work was of generally lower quality than the professional quality of the main games NPCs, but that was to be expected.

The problem comes though, when you start examining the vanilla Skyrim NPCs. The conversation trees with them are all fairly shallow. You generally can learn more about them by listening to them talk to each other than by talking to them yourselves. With the NPCs added by the mod though, it felt more like the game had been made from Bioware. The NPCs all had sprawling dialogue trees, with tons of back and forth conversation. It wasn’t bad. In fact, these characters definitely had more interactivity than the vanilla characters. But I could always pick them out. I knew which ones were added every time I saw them. They didn’t seamlessly fit into the game around them.

And while this is a discussion about a mod, it got me to thinking of this from a game design perspective. Because I’m sure we have all seen it. The parts of games that are obviously rushed. The parts of games were its obvious that the developer spent the largest amount of time and thought. The parts of games that were just included to pad it out.

I'm not sure I'll ever let go of how disappointed the second disc made me.

I’m not sure I’ll ever let go of how disappointed the second disc made me.

But these are almost always detrimental to the game as a whole. While I think we are all can honestly say that certain parts of our games excite us more to work on than others, certain characters are more interesting than others, we should generally be striving to make sure that that isn’t noticeable to the player.

If you have seven playable characters, for instance, all of them should have similar levels of depth. Now, some might become more important than others in the overall scheme of things. Of course if you have a main character they are going to have more depth than the other playable characters, but you shouldn’t have some of them come off as afterthoughts.

For an example of this done well, check out the PS2 game Dragon Quest VIII. There are four playable characters. Every single one of them has a piece of their backstory that is explored in the plot. Even Yangus, who comes off as a bit of a joke character, has his background with the thief known as Red come up in the plot.

If you have eight dungeons in your game, it shouldn’t be obvious that some were made for filler, while others were meticulously made with care. True, some dungeons will get more time than others, but you should be aware of the surrounding conditions that make them that way. Is it a major turning point in the story? Is it a climactic piece? Then you can get away with a bit more care. But none of them should ever feel like filler.

A good example of this done well is most Zelda games. While some were lengthier than others, in general, every dungeon you enter in a Zelda game has quirks and gameplay based on your tools that are all their own and very thought out. None of them feel like a dungeon for the sake of having a dungeon.

Inconsistency can creep into your game through many avenues:


A lot of people have started considering the length of a game as some measure of its quality. While I’ll admit that I love a 40 hour amazingly paced and executed game more than a 10 hour game that is amazingly paced and executed, in most cases that is not what you are getting.

Don’t include unnecessary parts to a game just to make it longer. I’d rather play a 1 hour game that is a blast than a 10 hour game that I have to slog through 90% of it to get to the good parts.


This one happens to almost everyone. There will be parts of your game that I am more interested. Maybe that one character is what I built the whole game around. Maybe that one mechanic that I made in that one dungeon just is more fun than I was expecting and is making designing that part more enjoyable to work on.

There isn’t really an easy solution, I just have to do the work on everything, whether it is what I want to work on or not. Maybe that other character will get more interesting the more I work on him. Maybe I can think up another awesome mechanic for the next dungeon (or maybe I can find a way to include the mechanic I like in another dungeon).

I just need to work on everything as equally as possible. And yes, sometimes this means working a little less on things I really loved.


You are so close to finishing your game. Oh, so close. But its taken you so long to get there. Just that little bit left and you just want to be done. And it shows. The last bits of your game are a bit slapdash and not very fun.

If you are getting to feel like this, take a deep breath, save your project, close RPG Maker, and go outside. Or play a video game. Or read a book. Take a break. Your game will be there when you get back and are ready to actually make something good again

Lack of Planning

Sometimes, inconsistency just sneaks in through lack of planning. You don’t think through how a feature would interact with another feature. You don’t think through what level of depth you want out of characters of different levels of importance in the game to have. You don’t think of the level of complexity of different mechanics in relation to each other.

All you can do to fix this is plan. Plan, plan, plan. And playtest afterwords as much as possible just to make sure your planning worked. Make sure everything feels like part of the same world.

So now that you’ve made it with me this far, how jarring was the inconsistencies in this article? I went from pictures with joke captions to being all text in the last half. The second half started using headings, while the first half was written without any. I randomly switched to using myself in one section rather than addressing you. Jarring wasn’t it? Now imagine that in a game.


Game: The Book of True Will by NeverSilent

Summary: A nuanced tale of four people having intense theological debates…and there are a lot of fun puzzles, too!


Like politics, religion is one of those topics you’re just not supposed to talk about. On the one hand, it plays such a huge role in world events that it seems very worthy of discussion and debate. On the other hand, it’s also a very personal and private part of life for many people and it’s always dangerous territory to critique someone’s inner life. As far as games go, churches are either harmless places to get healed or bizarre cults worshiping demons.  You almost never see a game where matters of faith are all that complicated, which is the primary reason why The Book of True Will is so interesting.

The search for answers drives the characters of this RPG Maker XP puzzle game, which immediately drops the player into the dungeon while the reason for their adventure is gradually revealed in flashbacks. It started when messenger boy Kyle stopped by a church to say hello to his childhood friend Pira, who is now a nun. Kyle is a nice enough guy, even though he’s not as wise as he thinks he is, and he gets into a bit of trouble early on by expressing his disappointment that she gave up a scientific career (I can’t help but wonder if he had other reasons to be upset about a pretty girl he knew choosing a celibate life). Pira is a nice person but lacking in some social graces and her attempts to introduce Kyle to her faith don’t go well. But at least these two have some tact. It’s their respective companions, Leroy and Madelyn, that really cause some trouble.


I bet you say that to all the girls.

Former mercenary Leroy is one coarse dude and you can’t help but feel for him when the others scold him for even swearing (any god who actually would get offended by “naughty words” needs a hobby). A less interesting story might have portrayed him as the only sane man in a world of pious idiots. However, it quickly becomes clear that he’s a bully with absolutely no concern for other people’s feelings. Meanwhile, Madelyn is all too eager to get offended but seems incapable of making an argument that relies on actual logic. If these two feel familiar, it’s because people like this can be found in every internet discussion anywhere about anything. The tension between them is so belligerent that if this were a romantic comedy, they would wind up married at the end, but instead things escalate into an explosive argument that goes on for an uncomfortably long time. When the dust settles, the group decides to explore a recently excavated temple that is said to house the very first copy of a holy text – The Book of True Will. They hope that will prove once and for all what is really at the core of these beliefs and settle the dispute.

If this is making it sound more like a movie than a game, fear not – there are puzzles galore. There are no battles and no main menu, but there are a lot of puzzles and most of them are a lot of fun. The typical pattern is that the player is introduced to a type of puzzle and then must solve similar ones of increasing difficulty. If you’re liking the mechanics, then the repetition is fun…but if you’re not, well, it can get rough. Thankfully, the majority of the puzzles are delightful, including a brilliant lock-picking game and a puzzle about translating runes that really gives the old noggin’ a workout.


Does that say ASS? Madelyn would be appalled!

There are some puzzles that players find frustrating. I had a hard time with one that involved studying a path and then navigating it in the dark.  The lights were turned out on the player far too early and what was intended to be a memorization exercise turned into simple trial and error. Yet for a game that tries out so many different puzzle ideas, the fun factor was impressively consistent. The final challenge is an amazing sequence where you dodge waves and waves of fireballs and totally feel awesome when you finish it.

The game’s visuals are almost all the RTP, which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The mapping is a bit spotty too; there are a few maps that have a lot of unnecessary empty space. For a first game, however, this is exactly the kind of thing a developer should be doing. It’s much easier to recruit people to help with art and other assets once you’ve proven your own skill with some content. Everyone needs to start somewhere.

Even if the visuals were top-notch, what would still make this game memorable in the end are the characters. This is not a game where you will be getting them confused. They are vibrant and all show different sides of themselves during their adventure. The scene that sticks with me the most is a brief but essential moment where a huge crowd of NPCs is gathered in front of the temple. As you talk to them, you see that they range from hateful idiots to thoughtful, intelligent people. It’s clear that faith means something different to every one of them and it’s not hard to see the parallels between their questions and ours. There can be no consensus on the mysteries of the universe as long as they remain mysterious, but The Book of True Will suggests that there is no right or wrong answer and urges us not to be scared about that.

Has anyone played this game? What did you make of its social commentary? What was your favorite puzzle? What should we review next? Let us know in the comments…and try not to slip into Leroy or Madelyn territory!


When we talk about great maps, we often talk about atmosphere – the way all of your efforts come together and make the player feel like they’re completely immersed in the experience. Atmosphere can be achieved through the use of graphics (from tiles to characters, lighting and fog), as well as music and sound. The right tune can make your map come alive and stick in your player’s mind for a while to come.

Knowing that music can be such a fantastic helper in creating atmosphere, we’ve created a brand new contest that merges music with mapping – altogether promising to create a truly unique experience.


Create an area and set the audio that accompanies it. You can choose any theme for your work. The judges will be looking at how well you’ve mapped your area and how the music and sound contribute to its atmosphere.

The Rules:

  1. Only one entry per person.
  2. You are limited to using RTP, any of the store packs or anything in the Re-Staff or Member+ releases. Your own composition or art is also welcome.
  3. Your area must be 51×39 tiles in size or smaller — this is 1632×1248 pixels, or 9 basic 17×13 maps. You can create the area as one map or a series of maps. If you are creating multiple maps, please limit them to 3.
  4. Your entry should be in a compressed game, without the RTP. If you are using store resources, please make sure your entry is encrypted. If you are using Lite as well as store resources, we know you cannot encrypt, so please send a link to your entry privately to me via pm.
  5. Include a list of credits.
  6. Post your final entry in the contest thread, found here, with the title “Final Entry”.


To help you out with some extra music options, we’re currently running a 40% off sale on 7 of our music packs (click on the image to be taken to the sale page):


The Prize:

  • 3rd place will receive a music pack of their choosing.
  • 2nd place will receive a music pack and graphic pack of their choosing.
  • 1st place will receive a music pack, a graphic pack and RPG Maker (or IGM) of their choosing.


Monday, January 26th and 12:00 EST (GMT 5:00pm)

We hope you’ll have fun and take part in this contest!


1 comment

RPG Maker VX Ace allows for customization of almost every element of your project. For those who have the artistic and scripting resources, you can edit your game to the point that players won’t even recognize it’s a RPG Maker game.

Often developers focus on having custom tilesets, character sprites, portraits, battlers and music. But there are several elements that even the more customized projects seem to overlook.

A) The title screen

The title screen is the first thing the player will see after starting up your game. It should set the “tone” for your game. The last thing you want to do is give the impression that your game is another generic RPG Maker title. It doesn’t take that much to customize the title screen to make it stand-out. Consider the Remnants of Isolation title screen:

Remnants of Isolation

It behaves very much like the default Title screen but the aesthetics have been customized to create a unique feeling for the game. The title and menu have been moved to the bottom left quadrant to allow the picture to take up the rest of the screen space. The window border and background color is customized to match the color palette of the game. There’s also a haunting track playing in the background that tells you this will be an emotional game experience. Overall, it’s a great title screen and gets me excited to play it!

Before releasing your game, consider putting effort into customizing your title screen to quickly get the player in the mood to play your game.

B) Default Menus/User Interface

Considering how much time you spend in menus in RPGs, you would think most developers would put some effort into editing the default interfaces. Unfortunately, that is often not the case.

The default battle menu. Oh, my favorite!

The default battle menu. Oh, my favorite!

In the past it was excusable since if you didn’t have any scripting experience it was difficult to edit the interface. Last year, RPG Maker released the Luna Engine – a series of scripts that would allow anyone to customize the RPG Maker interfaces.

Luna Engine Sample

That’s more like it!

The Luna Engine doesn’t just allow you to make aesthetic changes to the interfaces. You have total control over all the menu options, allowing you to edit them to fit your in-game systems.

The window skin and font are also overlooked elements of the UI. Even if you don’t customize the window skin and border, you can edit the background color in the Systems tab of the Database to fit the color scheme of your game. When choosing a font, make sure it’s readable! A bold sans serif font is usually best. Save the decorative fonts for titles.

C) Sound effects

Even the most aesthetically customized RPG Maker games still seem to feature the default sound effects. While this might seem like a minor detractor, consider how often you hear that cursor sound effect. Quite a bit! And while RPG Maker does come with a rich library of fantasy sounds, it’s lacking in terms of modern and futuristic effects.

Fortunately, our talented staff has picked up the slack. We have a wide array of Music and Sound resources available in our store. You can also find many free sound effects on the forum and through Google searches. Just make sure if you plan on going commercial that you have permission to use them.

D) Battle Animations

The default battle animations that come with the editor are quite extensive and aesthetically pleasing. They’re also used in just about every RPG Maker project! Once you see an attack animation a few hundred times in your own project or others, you rather just turn them off than see them again.


Yes, my projects are guilty of using the default animations too


Battle animation resources aren’t quite as plentiful as tilesets and music. If you can’t find custom battle animations to match your game, you can still make good use of the Animation editor in the Database of the engine. It can allow for some visually impressive effects. Pair your custom animations with new sound effects to really make them memorable!

E) Terminology

RPGs have their own terminology that you hear over and over again. Levels and HP are such key elements of RPGs that is hard to imagine one without them.

RPG Maker has its own set of terms and while some of them are RPG basics there are others that are unique to the engine. When creating a project, consider customizing as much of the terms as possible. Go through the database and see what names you can change to make them more closely fit your game world. It will give your world more weight and make it standout from other RPG Maker games.

The Database interface is where you’ll change most of the game terms. You can also change some of the default messages by opening the Script Editor and clicking the Vocab module which stores many of the battle messages.

When naming objects, try to focus on things that already exist. It can be cool to have terms unique to your game but overuse of jargon can confuse or bore the player.


Example of jargon from Dictionary

Small changes to your project can add up to make a huge difference. The next time you look at your project, consider what elements can be changed to make it standout more.

What other aspects of RPG Maker games do you think are often overlooked? Please discuss.



This article series is going to be a little different.

Its going to be sort of a tutorial series, but not really.

Its going to be sort of a dev diary, but not really.

Its going to be sort of a showcase for what can be done in RPG Maker, but not really.

Its basically going to be a bit of everything, and this is how it is going to work. I’m going to take a feature as a high concept, and week after week, work on that concept and walk you step through step in how I accomplish it. You’ll get to learn, as I walk through the steps, not just parts of the editor and eventing, but at least one persons ways of planning, note taking, and methodology.

The Inspiration

So, during the last Steam sale, I picked up a copy of Skyrim: Legendary Edition. I know, I know, I’m late to the party.

I put this up on my personal Facebook about half a week after getting it.

I put this up on my personal Facebook about half a week after getting it.

And between sleeping, eating, working, and New Years celebrations, I’ve been playing a good bit of it. And usually, with each game, I latch on to one or two things about the game and really geek out about it. For instance, back when I was replaying Chrono Trigger last April, I geeked out over the absolutely stellar pacing.

The Elder Scrolls series in general, which I had first played back when Daggerfall came out, was a series that I really enjoyed for its ambition, even when its actual technical ability was woefully under-powered for that ambition (this is really, a description of Daggerfall in general: a superbly ambitious game that was supremely flawed in almost every way). And I loved that amazing ambition.

Each dot was a location you could visit. This was just ONE REGION of the area you could explore in Daggerfall.

Each dot was a location you could visit. This was just ONE REGION of the area you could explore in Daggerfall.

With Skyrim, as much as I loved it, I looked at what I loved most about it: The Immersion Factor, and it is ambitious. And for the most part, it succeeds wildly. But it gave me an idea: What if I took one small part of it, the whole idea of a city having NPCs with routines, shrunk it down to a single town, and amped up the immersion. Don’t just give them routines, give them needs. Give them variable routines based on their current needs, and allow semi-random events to mess with them. Disease, weather, bad crops. And then have those needs and events affect how they interact with the player.

Its ambitious. Its stupid ambitious. If someone asked me on a scale of Final Fantasy I Remake to Daggerfall how Stupid Ambitious is this idea, I would probably be forced to say it is probably closer to the Daggerfall level of Stupid Ambitious, especially as a lone developer on the project. But it sounds really fun, and really neat. So why not.

If you reach this part of the scale, you may need to rethink your life choices.

If you reach this part of the scale, you may need to rethink your life choices.

The Plan

So, as my first step, I need to outline my endgame. What am I really working towards? I may end up scrapping some things by the end, but what is my ideal idea of this system manifested. You should always have an end goal. Without an end goal, a game or project can become aimless and lack cohesion.

So here is the plan:

The Living Town will have ~24 inhabitants. Each inhabitant will have:

  • Needs and Supplies: Food, Materials, Water, Gold
  • The ability to barter their supplies for other supplies
  • Routines that are based on time of day, day of week, season, weather, current needs, supplies, and wellness
  • Relationships with other NPCs, who they will interact with dynamically.
  • The ability to get sick, based on current needs, sickness prevalence in town/household.
  • The ability to dynamically provide quests to the Player based on current situation

The Town itself will be a rural village, featuring farming, hunting, fishing, a blacksmith, a small tavern with a few rooms available for travallers, and a trader who makes weekly trips to the nearby city.

The Play area will encompass the town itself, and the surrounding areas. Allowing the PCs to hunt, gather, and other odd jobs for the NPCs as needed.

So now that I have a plan. Its time to get started. Next time: Proof of concept.

Notes and Materials

Each article, I will provide every bit of notes and materials that I used in that stage of the process. Some will be insightful. Some will be cluttered messes that I used to jog my memories. The main idea is just to provide you with all the random things I generate while creating the system, and let you get an idea of the process. This week, the only materials I have are my notes on the plan, which you can find here.

Any extra ideas on the plan? What do you see the challenges being? What do you think would be the most fun thing about this system? Join us in the comment section below.


Battler art Step by Step – Envy

in Resources

I came up with what I wanted to draw while I was writing the description for the vote:

Envy – Shadows wreath this veiled demon, a black corpse shroud only pierced by the glaring green eyes behind it.  Her sinuous form rests atop a bulbous carapace lifted by eight arachnid legs; the blackest widow, ready to strike.

So, spider lady.  Sounded pretty badass, so after a couple sketches in my sketchbook I sat down to draw.


Here is a early look after I’d roughed out most of the forms and basically figured out where stuff was going to go.


Here is the final drawing after I’d gotten it into photoshop and cleaned it up a bit.


Trying to figure out surface materials, textures, and general light and dark on this tones pass.


I’ve hidden my tones here and figured out the colors I want.  She is very cool, save for just a couple warm spots.  At first I wanted to do warm and cool, but the warms just weren’t feeling right, so I pulled them out and focused just on the cool colors.


Here I’ve merged my color adjusted tones with my initial colors to get a decent base to paint over.  I start working in some lights and darks into the colors.


And here I’ve done my final pass of lights and colors, and added an effects layer.

You can check out a time-lapse of the digital painting here

And you can download the files, and vote in the poll here

Thanks for reading!


1 comment

Game: Little Briar Rose by ProGM and Flame

Summary: Little Briar Rose is a simple, gorgeous adventure game that will leave you wanting more.


2014 IGMC Winner – Best Non-RPG (3rd Place)!

If you were paying attention to the IGMC this summer, you probably remember this game, even if you didn’t play it. The gorgeous stained glass-themed artwork grabs your attention immediately. From beginning to end, Little Briar Rose is truly gorgeous and is also a pretty fun adventure game. Based on the classic tale of ” Sleeping Beauty,” a prince must navigate a thicket of thorns to reach the castle where the damsel is imprisoned. To get through, he will need to befriend the local “smallfolk,” i.e. gnomes, fairies and the like, and earn their favor to clear up sections of the path.

The artwork does wonders to sell the dialogue as an old-fashioned fairy tale, which is good cause the dialogue can be spotty. Most of it is your classic flowery medieval language, but every now and then someone throws in a modern-sounding word like “bummed” or “materialistic.” Still, it’s captivating enough to leave players wanting for more – the story ends at a moment that seems more like a midpoint than a true ending. For a contest entry, this is understandable, although if the developers continue to work on this (and they really should!) some additional content would be excellent.


Extreme Makeover: Gnome Edition

In terms of gameplay, Little Briar Rose is a point-and-click adventure game. All your movements, item use and interactions with NPCs are done by the mouse. As someone who has worked on games with mouse interaction, this is a hard thing to do well and this game does it well. The movement is consistently smooth and you’re never blocked by random objects. If you’re looking for something that doesn’t look or play at all like a typical RPG Maker game, this one is for you.

The puzzles are mostly based on memory and noticing details in the landscape. They lead to amusing conclusions, even if some can be obnoxious. There are a couple puzzles in particular that seem designed to fool the player into screwing it up at least once…and in this game, annoying the smallfolk means death. The creators seem aware of the trial-and-error nature of these puzzles and in a playful touch, there is no game over after you die. A new prince merely walks on the scene and resumes the quest. Good thing there are so many princes available.

That brings us to the end of our coverage of the IGMC winners. I’ve enjoyed the chance to experience all of them and while we’ll all inevitably disagree on which ones are better than others, all of them had something fun to offer and the creativity and  ingenuity of the RM community was on full display. Well done, everyone!

What did you think of Little Briar Rose? Did any of the puzzles have you stumped? What would you rather be, a gnome, a fairy, a merman or a spriggan? What should we review next? Tell us in the comments!


As I go to put this into the blog, it is 11:23pm on December 30th, and there is only a little more than 24 hours left for me in 2014.

It has been a crazy year for us. So much happened, and we are glad that we got to share it with our fans. So, while thinking forward to what we can do to make next year even better, let’s take a look at a few of the highlights from the year.

Steam Workshop


The first big hurdle we leaped this year was getting Steam Workshop integrated into RPG Maker VX Ace. The international RPG Maker Fanbase has always been big on communities. We’ve seen web forums come and go, resources and games hosted on many different sites.

But Steam Workshop was something different. Never had we brought RPG Maker to the masses rather than the masses having to come to us. Almost all PC gamers are already ON Steam, so getting Workshop integration gave RPG Maker fans the chance to reach out to the largest possible RPG Maker audience.

RPG Maker Recognition

The next hurdle wasn’t jumped by us on the RPG Maker team, but by our users. RPG Maker has, in the past, been seen by a lot of indie game fans as a toy. Not a real engine to make real games.

But this year, RPG Maker users proved them wrong.


With games like A Bird Story, we proved that RPG Maker could be used to make games that pioneer new storytelling techniques, and execute them superbly.


With games like Always Sometimes Monsters, we proved that RPG Maker could be used to make games where players choices mattered, where they had emotional weight.

Just all around, RPG Maker games have been making great strides at being accepted as real games. And that is something that you guys did, not us. And we couldn’t be happier.

The Indie Game Maker Contest

And then we get to this monster. No discussion of the year in RPG Maker would be complete without taking a look at the single largest contest (at least that I know of) ever run by an RPG Maker site.

As a judge in this contest, I was personally floored by the number of entries. Nearly SEVEN HUNDRED games were entered into the contest, and we had to judge them all. I’ll admit that I lost a lot of sleep getting through them all, probably as much sleep as the developers lost making them.

But it was worth it to see such brilliant games as Oh! Ko!, Remnants of Isolation, Cope Island, and so, so many more.


Resource Packs. So Many Resource Packs

This year, we’ve had so many releases, I can’t even remember them all.

From great tilesets like Pixel Myth Germania

pixel-myth-germania-bannerto amazing new Character and Facesets like the Fantasy Hero Character Pack

product-banner-fantasy-hero-character-packWe provided stunning graphics for our fans to make great games.

And with those great graphics, you could provide some wonderful music from the many music packs we offered, like the Inspirational Music Packs

inspirational-vol-1-productor the Adventurer’s Journey Pack

the-adventurers-journey-productBut we didn’t stop there. We also ventured into scripts, and made creating versatile custom menus and HUDS in RPG Maker VX Ace super simple with the Luna Engine!



The Coming Year

This year has been wonderful. It was always exciting to see what we could make next, and what our fans would make in response. And with the new year ringing in for me in just a few hours, I like to think of how I can make the next year even better. So let’s finish one more project than we did this year. Let’s start something grand.

What are your plans for the coming year? How are you going to make next year even better than this one?